“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” C.S. Lewis
I believe that most women have some type of issue with their mom at some point in their life. Come on be honest with yourself….is there not a time in your life when you have had an issue in some fashion with your mother? Our relationship with our mothers begins before we are born. Some of the issues are minor and they can be dealt with by repentance on our parts to God and a change in behavior or attitude but others are MAJOR and need to be handled properly because they affect every part of our lives. What do I mean by saying every part of our lives? I mean that they can affect our friendships, parenting, relationships with our husbands and even our relationship with God.
I had MAJOR issues where my mom was concerned. When I left home at age 17, I knew that I had suffered from and witnessed countless episodes of abuse as I was growing up. My mother’s parents and siblings were not like my mother. She was the only one in the family who acted the way she did and she kept who she was hidden from most people. Her family (which was also my family) was in quite a bit of denial about who she really was. My siblings and I were the only ones who really knew the truth because we had lived it.
As each one of us left home, it took a while for us to each, individually, let the dust settle and realize that we had been given a very serious problem to have to handle. I remember the first and only time I confronted my mother about her abuse of me and my siblings. I was in my early thirties, my kids were preschoolers and I had realized that something needed to be done. I was a brand new Christian. I wanted her to admit what she had done to me and the way that she had treated me and my siblings and ultimately get help for herself. The confrontation did not go the way that I had hoped that it would, she refused to acknowledge the abuse and even said that she didn’t remember certain episodes that I brought up. She did admit that she had been “strict”. I told her that it would really be helpful if she would, someday, at least tell me that she was sorry. She then looked at me insolently and mockingly and said softly, “I’m sorry.” And that was that. I don’t think I imagined it, it looked as if she was about to laugh. It was evil. Even though I was still a baby in my Christian faith, I knew in my heart that there was something very evil behind her attitude.
After that, I knew that I was going to have to take some action. I thought about it for a few weeks and considered the consequences that would also include my two youngest siblings. Honestly, because I was too embarrassed to talk to others about it and I was still a new Christian it did not occur to me to pray about it. I knew that I could no longer allow her to be around my kids if she had no memory or conscience about the things that she had done. What would keep her from treating my kids the same way that she had treated me? I decided that I had no alternative but to sever my relationship with her.
The severed condition of the relationship went on for many years. About seven years, I believe. She sent cards to me and my children and I would not open them. She would send holiday gifts to us through my grandmother and I would not open them. I saved all of them, bundled them up then sent them all back to her via my grandparents after about two years. She never sent us anything again. A few other things happened during those seven years, I learned more than I wanted to know about the dynamics of a dysfunctional family (these will have to be addressed at a later date) and my growing relationship with God came to a complete standstill and then started to digress.
I met my husband about five years into the separation from my mother. After dating for two years we started talking about marriage and I started turning back to God. Papa Joe* gently told me one day that he really thought I should consider forgiving my mother. I had come to respect Papa Joe’s peaceful way of living life (Christian). I resisted the suggestion at first but considered the possibility and then decided to call my mom. That was when reconciliation happened and within a year after reconciling, I went through a process of finally forgiving her. Right after I reconciled with her is when my relationship with the Lord started to take off again.
This is what forgiving my mother has ended up looking like in my life. I walked through a forgiveness process of her (not with her but of her). She, by the way, has still never admitted that she did anything wrong and she has never sought out any type of help for her emotional/spiritual problems. I still see her for who she is. I honor her as my mother, I even send her Mother’s Day cards, birthday cards and sometimes gifts because she is my mother. I call her regularly to ask how she is. The Bible very specifically instructs us to honor our parents.
She chose the direction of our relationship many years ago. There are many invisible walls between her and I because this is what she has chosen. We are not close. She does not meet any of my needs. She is not the mother whom I always wished that I had although she does surprise me at times with a random motherly expression of love. I grieve because of this at times but after 54 years of having her for my mother I’m getting accustomed to the fact that this is the way it is. It was my mother’s choice, not mine. Sadly, she has forfeited the possibility of a quality relationship with any of her four daughters. One of my sisters will still not speak to or associate with her.
Something that also happened during the process of forgiveness was that my relationship with my grandmother is now in its proper perspective. After many years of placing the label of “mother replacement” on my grandmother, I now understand that my grandmother is my mother’s mother, not my mother. She was a very good grandmother and many of the good things that are in me today are in me because of her influence in my life. She and my grandpa were the only connection to sanity that I had when I was a child. I am very thankful for both of them. They were placed into my life by God.
My relationship with the Lord is growing everyday by leaps and bounds since I forgave my mother and I live a peaceful lifestyle, now which is characterized by forgiveness. The Lord’s compassions in my life are new every morning. I literally wake up every morning with a new song in my heart. This morning it was “The Revelation Song”.
So today I have shared one of my experiences with you along with my strength and hope who is Jesus Christ the Son of God and the Author of forgiveness.
It may help you to read the About me…… section of my blog if you haven’t already. That tab is at the top of the page. It tells a little more about where I come from.
More on the “The Mountain of Forgiveness” next Thursday.
Love and Blessings to you and yours!
*I have decided to refer to my hubby as Papa Joe from here on out because using a name for him seems a bit more personal. This is not his real name of course and I do not consider him to be any kind of father figure to me (he is, in fact, 2 years younger than me). Papa Joe is similar to the name that the grandchildren lovingly call him and I think it’s cute.